A week of sitting out of rehearsals feels like a month. It’s like going from starting point guard to bench warmer. You want nothing more than to be in the game. You’ve done your time resting on the sidelines. Week three starts now.
You flow through your pre-rehearsal warmup. A pulling/aching sensation shocks your groin in certain positions, but you are smart about not pushing beyond your current limits. The associate choreographer who has been running every dance rehearsal is understanding, and allows you to mark the moves that put the most strain on your injury. That’s a relief, but nerves rush to your stomach at the thought of how the choreographer may react.
Today is the first day you work with choreographer Karen Bruce. You experienced a taste of what it is like to work with her during auditions, but now it’s the real thing. Until today, Miss Bruce has been in London, where the creative team is from. She’s flown in to guide you all through the rest of rehearsals, and plans to stay until the first preview of the full production. Standing in front of the mirrors at the front of the studio, Karen and the associate choreographer, Amy discuss which dancer follows what track.
“Hello everyone. I’m looking forward to seeing the work Amy has done with you all. We’re going to start by working through the individual rumbas and dance breaks in ‘I’m Every Woman.’ Let’s start with the rumba section with the couple that dances downstage right.”
You have a moment to review your rumba with your partner. He’s been dancing with the female swing until now, so you both take time to reacquaint with each others bodies again. You discovered which muscles you have to engage in order to reduce the risk of adding extra stress on your groin. Those muscles are your focus as you reprogram the movement into your muscle memory. You’re confident in this section. The dance break is what drops your heart into your stomach.
“Can I have the couple that dances upstage right?”
You and your partner walk across the studio and stand in your spot. A number line draws across the front of the studio used as a reference to solidify each formation, or to position each actor accordingly. You look to your left and right. There are lines taped to the floor representing the number of wings, and the amount of room you have in each space. You and your partner stand on number four, at the front edge of wing two, stage right.
Karen watches your rumba, and breaks down the details in the moment. Everyone has different choreography. She directs you and your partner through the intimacy that lives in your specific rumba. She guides you through the movement that breathes, and the movement that needs more attack. Your rumba has a new dynamics, and more ornamentation to implement throughout the piece. This 30-second section happens half way through the number. The real challenge will be applying these directions once you’re out of breath and trying to sing.
Karen proceeds to work through the rest of the rumbas, and eventually gets to your dance break that follows. It’s hard to breathe through the nerves when the lump in your throat won’t let you. Luckily, you trust your partner. You know he will give you what you need to protect your body through the move that lead to your injury.
Your partner lifts you over his shoulder, brings you down, and spins you around. You grab each other’s right hand as if you are shaking hands. He braces himself as your right leg lifts up, and wraps around your arm. He spins you to your left. Your leg lifts as you turn under the handshake hold. Your groin pulses after the turn, but you brace yourself for the final moves of the dance break. You made it through the dance break this time, but that pulse in your groin is telling you not to do that again. You ignore that warning, and try again. Now your groin is angry. You tell Karen about the injury, and again, your eyes widen at her understanding. She directs what she can, and lets you take a moment to rest.
After running through each number numerous times, you pace to the elevator drenched in sweat. You rush three blocks down to teach a zumba class, as you shove a protein bar into your system. Your boss is aware of your injury, so you give your class as much as you can without stressing your groin any further. You push through another hour of cardio, and find a place to grab a bite to eat. A shower and a good night sleep is all that’s left on your to-do list. The next two weeks, A.K.A. the last two weeks, of rehearsal will be the most crucial in order for each number to be as polished and show-ready as possible.
In the two weeks, you’ve managed to fill every moment in time. Physical therapy is necessary for your groin to heal. Depending on your therapist’s schedule, you either receive treatment before rehearsal, speed walk during your lunch break, or you end your day with an hour of PT. You teach two classes a week, and utilize your friend’s gym so that you can continue healing your muscles through a hot tub and cold pool. Every day is a whirlwind, but there’s a newfound excitement in the hustle and bustle.
Additionally, each rehearsal in the last two weeks has grown far more intense. Every time the creative teams asks you all to drill a number they are testing you. Do you have the stamina to give 1,000% to each dance, simultaneously singing your heart out? The creative team will make sure you do. This method of rehearsing affects each performer in different ways. You all to strive for consistency in a professional setting, but not everyone is used to performing such long, high impact numbers so many times in a day. The creative team continuously fills your bodies with a lot of information, but the greatest gift of all is the pressure that leads the cast to grow stronger together.
You stretch in the studio on the penultimate day of the NYC rehearsals. The drilling continues as you all prepare for press day. Deborah Cox and Jasmin Richardson will be singing their duet “Run to You,” and Deborah and dancers will perform “I’m Every Woman” for representatives from Playbill, Theater Mania, Broadway World, and more. Wanting to be fresh for press, you and the other dancers hope for a bit more downtime to preserve energy; the creative team has a different approach.
The creative team has you drill each number. You finish running “I’m Every Woman” for a fourth time, and now there’s a limited amount of time until press arrives. This means you will perform this number for the fifth time in one day. Exhaustion taunts each dancer as everyone prepare to look “show-ready.” A voice echoes to your right.
“Guys we got this.”
You turn to your main salsa partner as he proceeds to share words of encouragement. These words ripple throughout the ensemble. Each dancer shares words that gives you wings to soar through this number one more time. The music starts. The energy lifts. The press loves it. There’s a plague of smiles that infect the entire cast as you fire through this last run. This bond has officially created a tour family, despite the exhaustion. You can all walk away with pride.
Your body’s never felt so good on a Saturday rehearsal. Yesterday’s energy lingers into the last day in the studio. The producers and crew that help bring this show to life arrive at 1pm. They witness the last run through before transferring to Papermill Playhouse to tech the show. You officially learned the ins and outs of this production. You’ve learned more ways to take care of yourself during a strenuous rehearsal process. Best of all, you have a family bond with an encouraging cast to lead each other into a successful run.
1. Mark: To not fully execute the movement
2. Wings: The spaces on the sides of the stage that allow actors to enter and exit the stage.
3. Deborah Cox: Played “Rachel Marron” (principal role) in The Bodyguard First National US Tour.
4. Jasmin Richardson: Played ”Nicki Marron” (supporting actress) in The Bodyguard First National US Tour.